• 29 Mar 2015 /  Reviews

    URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY

     2005/15/90m

    “Mary’s evil is beyond legend.”

    Director: Mary Lambert / Writers: Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris / Cast:  Kate Mara, Robert Vito, Tina Lifford, Ed Marinaro, Lillith Fields, Michael Coe, Nancy Everhard, Audra Lea Keener, Nate Herd, Brandon Sacks.

    Body Count: 7

    Laughter Lines: “That’s not even a real urban legend. That’s just that movie Candyman.”

    ________________________________________

    With tenuous links to the previous films in the series and very few urban legends left to kill off teenagers with, Bloody Mary is, to date, the last film of its name, although the planned fourth instalment (Ghosts of Goldfield) was un-linked to the Urban Legend banner (ho ho ho) as Sony wanted to explore furthering the franchise on their own terms. That was almost a decade ago.

    In Salt Lake City, many miles from the campuses of Pendleton and Alpine Universities, high school journalist Samantha (Mara) and friends skip their Homecoming night festivities in favour of a slumber party where they share the local myth of Mary Banner, a teenage girl who disappeared in 1969 after an altercation with some high school jocks. Having run an expose on the football team at her school, Samantha isn’t presently in anyone’s good books. That night, she and her friends disappear from the house.

    A few days later, Sam reappears, claiming she and her pals awoke in a basement far away and had to walk back to town. Although she has no proof, she and twin brother David accurately suspect a trio of jocks.

    Soon after, said jocks – and a cheerleader – begin dying in strange circumstances: A vain guy is cooked alive on a tanning bed (before Final Destination 3 did it), the girl squeezes a spot which turns out to contain spider eggs that hatch countless arachnids from her face, resulting in her smashing into a mirror and filleting herself, and another takes a piss on an electric fence with sizzling results.

    Meanwhile, Sam is being haunted by visions of Bloody Mary. She and David track down one of Mary’s friends, time-warped hippie Grace (Lifford), who thinks that finding and burying Mary’s remains will put an end to the carnage, though not before she’s done offing the responsible parties, who convolutedly all turn out to be the offspring of those involved in the ’69 incident. Grace tells them “the sins of the father are visited upon the son.”

    Bloody Mary does nothing new within its confines, virtually everything that happens can be seen driving down a long straight lane towards us long before it arrives, headlights of full beam, honking the horn as it comes. There is one rather shocking turn that never seems to be processed correctly by the remaining characters, and the non-central roles aren’t really ironed out in any memorable way to make us care for the victims: They exist to be dry-roasted, electrocuted, and slashed to ribbons.

    In spite of these shortcomings and a definitive drop in budgetary quality, UL3 is still plenty fun, with enough going on to keep you entertained for 90 minutes, a few more niche legends and a less obvious revelation as to the identity of ‘the final assailant’ would’ve helped but as it is, fun times for any slumber party.

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  • 23 Mar 2015 /  Reviews

    HOUSEBOAT HORROR

    1989/79m

    “Something is about to happen on Lake Infinity.”

    Directors: Kendall Flannigan & Ollie Martin / Writer: Ollie Martin / Cast: Alan Dale, Christine Jeston, Craig Alexander, Des ‘Animal’ McKenna, Gavin Wood, John Michael Howson, Louise Siversen, Peppie D’or, Steve Whittacker, Julia Tompson.

    Body Count: 13

    Laughter Lines: “You watch it – or I’ll kick you where your mother never kissed you!”

    ______________________________________

    Back in 1989, Britain was in the midst of its obsession with Australian soap operas: Neighbours was at the top of the tree, while Home & Away perched a few branches below. I preferred Sons & Daughters - so many Mafia-like plots within a small cast, poisonous snakes in the safe, shark attacks… it had it all.

    Thus, when sitting down with Houseboat Horror recently, that nostalgic era of Scott and Charlene, Helen Daniels, Madge and Harold, Bouncer the dog, and Ramsay Street – surely built on crossing Ley Lines for all its bad luck – came a-floodin’ back. So much so as Alan Dale, who played Jim Robinson in Neighbours for years, was somehow roped into appearing in the floating turd that is this movie. Ants may elect to make a houseboat out of said turd and the cycle begineth again.

    A crappy rock n’ roll band and a film crew head out to Lake Infinity to shoot a music video. Naturally, the lake was the scene of a tragic fire (or some murders, I’ve already forgotten) X-years earlier. A newspaper tells us a child was horrifically burned. See where the course has been set? So laboured is this point, that early on when the group stops at a gas station, one of the attendants turns to the other and says: “Brings back memories over those movie killings a few years back…” and the world’s most obvious this-sounds-creepy synthesiser note is struck.

    The group hire three ugly-ass houseboats and, after a day of fooling about with the really shitty band, are stalked and slain by a shadowy chap who lurks in the trees a lot. People are sliced with his machete, axed in the head, shot with spearguns, and even killed by a horseshoe in the eyes.

    There’s very little more to say about Houseboat Horror. It’s cheap, it’s brimming with Aussie sayings of yore (people referred to as ‘dags’ who might’ve ‘shot through’) and it’s dated by an appearance of the world’s largest cell phone, which Alan Dale says into: “The two-way doesn’t work so if you want to talk to me you’ll have to do it on this walkabout phone thing.”

    Some gory dispatchments and the mild distraction of different accents and vernacular highlight an otherwise awful vessel (ho ho ho) before it sinks under its own weight of crap.

    Blurb-of-interest: John Michael Howson was in the 1980 Aussie horror Stage Fright.

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  • 18 Mar 2015 /  Reviews

    TRICK OR TREATS

    1982/92m

    “…when Halloween night stopped being fun!”

    Director/Writer: Gary Graver / Cast: Jackelyn Giroux, Peter Jason, Chris Graver, Carrie Snodgress, David Carradine, Stave Railsback, Jillian Kesner, Paul Bartel.

    Body Count: 3 (!)

    Laughter Lines: “These horror movies… they make me scared to drive home alone at night!”

    __________________________________________

    “When Halloween night stopped being fun,” goes the tagline. Darn tootin’. Short of falling ass-first on a running power drill, I can’t think of a less fun way to spend Halloween night, or any other given night, watching Trick or Treats.

    Carrie Snodgress gets her husband carted off to an institution in the opening scene. Why? No clue, ToT doesn’t care about in-filling its plot holes. The scene is slapstick heavy, with two orderlies struggling with the flailing hubby, who tries to climb a tree at one point to escape. They all end up falling in the pool. The only thing missing was a table of cream pies.

    ‘Several years later’, struggling actress-cum-babysitter Linda (Giroux) accepts a Halloween night job to look after the couple’s horrible, horrible son, while Mom and her new squeeze (Carradine), head off to a party. Meanwhile, Hubby has broken out of the institute disguised as a female nurse, and is heading home to murder his wife and anyone else who gets in his way and nobody else.

    Yeah that’s right, this is the slasher movie without any slashing. Hubby punches out a security guard rather than stabs him, threatens a couple of homeless guys (one of whom is horror-fixture Bartel), and eventually mistakenly kills a random blonde chick whom he mistakes for his wife.

    This might sound okay, but nothing remotely resembling a threat of violence happens for well over an hour into the 92 minute film. Until then, it’s a never ending cycle of the bratty kid playing a prank on Linda, that she always falls for, and some trick or treaters coming to the door. Again. And again. And again. Until death. Your death. From boredom.

    With just 15 minutes remaining, Hubby finally catches up with Linda, thinking her to be Carrie Snodgress, and chases her a bit. Although the film is so darkly turned out you may as well close your eyes and rest for all the good they’ll do you open.

    A fittingly annoying twist for a fittingly annoying child in the world’s most disappointing ‘slasher’ film is the shitty icing on this cake. A cake made of the shittiest shit one might dredge up from a shit-filled canal in Shitsville, Tennessee.

    Blurbs-0f-interest: Carradine was in Children of the Corn V and Detention (2010); Steve Railsback was in Deadly Games and Slash; Paul Bartel was in Killer Party.

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  • 13 Mar 2015 /  TGI Friday!

    First off, any fool in charge of producing the 13th film in the Friday the 13th franchise should’ve had it all set up to release said 13th film in 2013.

    WHY DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN???

    Latest news seems to suggest the film has been pushed back from its mooted February-then-November 2015 release date to May 13th, 2016: SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE LAST FILM.

    Christ alive, producer folks, between 1980 and 1987 they pretty much churned out one a year on a squillionth of the resources available today.

    Here’s a rundown of what’s been going on (apparently):

    Key: Good news Bad news News I don’t care about either way

    • It’s a sequel, a logical follow up to the 2009 reboot.
    • It’ll be a supernatural found-footage film. Possibly without Jason. Fans are ‘unhappy’ about this.
    • It’ll be in 3D. Whatever, everything else is. This means the FF angle will likely be dropped. Fans go “Yay!”
    • It’s now called Friday the 13th. It’s no longer a sequel, but another reboot, making it the third film in the series with that name.
    • It’ll be out in 2010.
    • No, 2012.
    • Oops, November 2014.
    • OK, February 2015.
    • 2016.
    • Paramount have got the franchise back from Platinum Dunes.
    • It’ll be a TV series instead/aswell.
    • It will be set at Camp Crystal Lake.
    • David Bruckner, who helmed an at best okay segment of the mostly disappointing V/H/S, is directing it.
    • Jason might get his own Doc Loomis. Tommy Jarvis, perhaps?

    Seems that nobody over at Crystal Lake has much of a clue what’s going on… Slasher films are in a rut at present so that goes some way to explaining why nobody’s super keen on rolling the dice. Remakes aside, what was the last big screen killer-with-a-knife film that left a significant impression, Scream 4You’re Next?

    As the movie business is run by an Excel spreadsheet which doesn’t have a column for ‘what movie fans care about’, I’d say it’s likely we don’t see Jason return in any formidable way for awhile, and even if this new film miraculously gets off the ground in the next couple of years, what are the odds there’ll be anybody smart enough at the production house to revisit the churn-out method that seemed to work so well in the 80s. Hell, there was a new Saw movie every Halloween not that long ago. It can be done.

    Whatever method Jason is sent back to the screen in (like some poor war orphan packed off back to Hollywood), I know I’ll be there waving my little hockey mask flag.

    Do something before we all end up here

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  • 08 Mar 2015 /  Reviews

    DEADLY GAMES

     1982/88m

    “Only he will hear you scream.”

    A.k.a. Who Fell AsleepThe Eliminator

    Director/Writer: Scott Mansfield / Cast: Jo Ann Harris, Sam Groom, Steve Railsback, Christine Tudor, Denise Galik, Dick Butkus, Jere Lea Rae, Robin Hoff, June Lockhart, Colleen Camp, Alexandra Morgan.

    Body Count: 5

    Laughter Lines: “I’m taking a shower… No, I don’t look like Janet Leigh.”

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    Filmed in 1980 and shelved till ’82, here’s a weird quasi-slasher film, that defies most genre pigeonholing. I’d call it a rom-com-killodrama.

    Woman is stalked and killed at her remote house. While there’s no evidence of foul play (cause of death was ultimately a fall), her plucky, motormouth estranged sister Keegan (Harris) suspects otherwise when she comes to town. Reacquainting herself with old school friends in the homestead, Keegan also flirts heavily with married cop Roger (Groom), and learns that, amongst the adults of Whereversville, a culture of adultery has emerged and maybe even a bit of homosexuality.

    Deadly Games unfolds differently to expectations, flitting from one genre to another for however long it wants. For a while, it’s a sort of Real Housewives girl-gossip feast with the string of targeted friends talking husbands n’ shit. After one of the group reportedly drowns after a party, instead of anybody sitting upright and thinking ‘hmm, two suspicious accidents in a short while, how’s about we frickin’ investigate?’

    Instead, the film hop-scotches across to the rom-com mode as a curious threeway between Keegan, Roger, and his friend Billy, a PTSD-suffering veteran. They fool around in the gloomy cinema Billy owns, throw a ball around in the park, and laugh all the way to the sounds of a gushing ballad that sounds like it came from an episode of Fame (“Oh damn, I’m lost in loooove agaaaaaaaain!”)

    Come the 75-minute mark, it’s almost as if Scott Mansfield realises he hasn’t thought of an ending so quickly - very quickly – wraps things up and then kind’ve decides to just leave a few things unresolved and just roll the credits (in order of appearance, but even that’s incorrect). The identity of the killer is pretty much who all the arrows were pointing at, which is pretty disappointing.

    However, by far the weirdest element of Deadly Games is Jo Ann Harris. As the heroine, she’s nothing like your Laurie/Ginny/Marti. A wisecracking magazine writer, Keegan just never stops acting like a kid with ADHD, relentlessly commenting on everything, showcasing the film’s strongest point – it’s dialogue. The schtick begins to grate after awhile, like she just hasn’t got time to take the deaths seriously and is more concerned with her romance with a married man! And the film can’t even be written off as a teen horror as the players are adults and thus should maybe know a bit better, act a little more grown up, and be less annoying.

    The mystery element would work well as a miniseries, and maybe dilute how fucking annoying the heroine is, but, some witty lines on the side, Deadly Games just can’t decide what it wants to be.

    Blurbs-of-interest: Railsback was in Trick or Treats and Slash; June Lockhart was in Whisperkill.

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